Review: The Benzene Ring – Crossing the Divide

Crossing the Divide

The creation of an experimental album is not an easy task, as those who try to accomplish it are tasked with blending the three essential elements which define the sound of this genre (heaviness, dynamics and atmosphere) without relying one particular one too much. If it isn’t perfectly centered, the whole thing will go lopsided. In terms of experimental music, the slightest imbalance in your sound might throw off the whole album and break the listener’s immersion. Fortunately, the three New Yorkers from The Benzene Ring handled this balancing act with great sensitivity and skill in creating their gorgeous piece of experimental rock/metal, Crossing the Divide, which came out in November last year.

Clocking at almost 80 minutes, Crossing the Divide doesn’t feel long, given the genre’s usual album lengths. This album is filled to the brim with great moments within its perceived runtime. “And We Are Become As Strangers”, the opening track, kicks off the record with an almost one minute build-up, mostly comprised of piano. The track gains momentum with the addition of spoken words and a massive piano riff over the established atmosphere.

It is in the second track, “Jerks In the Obsolaire” where The Benzene Ring start introducing themselves. The song contains remarkable sections, coming all the way from soothing singing to frenetic rocking.

Other highlights are “Miles Past the Mark” with its combination of clean singing formatted in a psychedelic/indie vibe; swirling and noisy “Alarms”, which has an eerie feel to it; nothing less eerie and almost folksy “Wraits and Spectres.” “Ascension” brings back piano in the game which tirelessly goes forth and back to further explorations within the jazz and rock circles.

Mixing-wise, Crossing the Divide is really well-made as well. The guitars are crisp and clean, the drums have a lot of punch and sound roomy, the bass is actually audible, and the keyboards fit in between the other components perfectly, rather than just being layered on top of the mix. There obviously was great attention to detail involved, and the album is much better because of it. Get it from Bandcamp.

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